News & Releases >> Sep 26 2010
By Mihira Lakshman
TORONTO. September 27th. Kenya's Kenneth Mungara and Sharon Cherop ran the fastest men's and women's marathons ever on Canadian soil, and Hamilton's Reid Coolsaet took a giant leap towards achieving his Olympic dream, Sunday at the 21st Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM).
Mungara won his third consecutive STWM title completing the 42.195-kilometre course in 2:07:58, smashing his previous record of 2:08:32, set in 2009. Jafred Chirchir was second in 2:08:09 and Daniel Rono, who won the 2006 event, was third in 2:08:14 – completing the Kenyan sweep of the men's podium. Kenyan runners have won the STWM race for the past five years.
The top four men were all under Mungara's 2009 record.
Coolsaet was the top Canadian — 10th overall — in 2:11:23, achieving the Canadian Olympic standard for the 2012 Games, and running the fastest marathon ever by a Canadian in Canada.
Cherop's victory was more dramatic, needing a sprint finish to claim the title in 2:22:43, just slightly ahead of second-place Tirfi Tsegaye of Ethiopia, who was 2:22:44. Ethiopia's Merima Mohammed finished third in 2:23:06. Vancouver's Katherine Moore was the top Canadian woman in 2:47:41.
“It was so close, and I tried to keep [my] edge. I had to fight," said Cherop, who shattered her previous personal best (2:28:38) and put Kenya back on top of the women's podium, after Ethiopian runners claimed the title for the past three years.
The top four women were under the previous Canadian all-comers record of 2:26:01, set by Lydia Simon of Romania at the 2001 world championships in Edmonton. The top three ran the 5th, 6th, and 7th fastest women's times in the world so far this year and were all faster than the winning time in Berlin, held earlier in the day.
The top women pushed the tempo and hovered around 2:23-pace for most of the race, before a fast, thrilling duel over the last 7km.
While Cherop and Tsegaye took the women's race down to the wire, Mungara got the dirty work out of the way before the runners reached the downtown core.
After running comfortably behind the pacemakers for most of the race, reaching the halfway point at 63:42, Mungara threw in a nasty surge at 35K when the runners were passing a water station. As Chirchir and Rono veered towards the tables to grab their bottles, Mungara chose to skip the fuelling opportunity, increasing his cadence and speeding away.
He immediately put a couple of strides between himself and his competitors, opening a healthy lead over the final few kilometres.
Mungara didn't show any signs of weakness.
“I don't know how. My lord helped me,” he said. “I was so happy when I got to the front.”
The conditions — about nine degrees, with no wind — were ideal for marathon running.
Coolsaet, 31, knew an opportunity like this wouldn't come very often, so he furiously chased the Olympic standard of 2:11:29, set by Athletics Canada last Wednesday.
“Part of me wanted to go for the Canadian record,” Coolsaet said, in reference to Jerome Drayton's 2:10:09, set in 1975. “[It] was still within reach at halfway (65:03). But that was a little tough. I tried to rally to stay on Olympic standard, and I had to push those last 2K to make sure I got under.”
“With 1K to go, I looked at my watch, and thought, 'I got to buckle down here.'”
Coolsaet maintained a steady pace, with a slightly positive split (65:10 first half, then 66:13), smiling uncontrollably over the final 200m when he know he was going to get the Olympic Standard.
Teammate Eric Gillis also set a two-minute personal best in 2:12:08, despite nursing a sore knee and running most of the second half alone. As in his Houston debut in January, he finished strong.
“It felt surprisingly good,” Gillis said. “Around 38K, I was starting to hurt. But instead of slowing down, I tried to pick it up a bit, and it worked. I was able to find another gear.”
Emotions were running high for Dave Scott-Thomas, who coaches both Coolsaet and Gillis at the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph, Ont.
“Honestly, at the end, I was crying,” Scott-Thomas said. “It's a powerful connection you have. It's not just training stuff — it's life. I mean, my youngest daughter is named after [Reid].”
“This wasn't mind blowing range. This is what we thought they should run. I'm very happy, but not surprised,” he added.
Race director Alan Brookes said he couldn't pick just one favourite moment on a day where two Canadian all-comers records fell, and a local runner made the Olympic standard.
“Over the past few years, we've come to believe we could have a marathon in Toronto that is every bit as good as a marathon in Chicago, Los Angeles, Rome or Amsterdam,” Brookes said.
About 20,000 runners took part in marathon, half marathon and 5K races, raising more than $2.7 million for 127 local charities.